Cornell Big Red Proves They Are For Real

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So just how surprising was Cornell’s two wins this past weekend in the NCAA tournament? Well, considering that no Ivy League team has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in more than 30 years, it is a big surprise.

Ivy Surprise

Final FourBut maybe we should not be all that stunned given that Cornell has been showing us all season long that this isn’t your typical team from Ithaca, NY. Its just that it is easy to overlook the Ivy League frontrunner when the big conference teams receive all of the attention.

In the first game of the season Cornell went down to Alabama and beat the Crimson Tide and a few weeks later played very well against the #1 Kansas Jayhawks, leading by three points at the half, eventually losing by just six points on the road. Those two games alone should have alerted Temple and Wisconsin, respective losers to Cornell this past weekend, that there was a lot of big in this red menace.

Cornell had a huge win on Friday, dispatching the Atlantic 10 champion Owls 78-65, before thumping the Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday, 87-69. Most surprising was the margin of victory in each game, no cliffhangers or uncertainty about the outcome down the stretch.

Louis Dale

Cornell’s 5′ 11” guard, Louis Dale has taken charge in the post season, scoring 21 points against Temple before dropping in 26 against Wisconsin. This comes from a senior who averaged 12 points per game coming in, playing in the shadow of Ryan Wittman, Cornell’s 6’7” forward. Wittman, who averaged nearly 18 points per game this season also has stepped up his game scoring 20 and 24 points respectively in the first two games of the NCAA tournament.

Jeff Foote, Cornell’s 7 foot center has been an additional factor for Cornell in the tournament, lending his height and talent to the team’s run, contributing 16 points against Wisconsin. Most telling about Cornell’s victories is that they won their games against defensive minded teams. Indeed, before allowing giving up 87 against Cornell, Wisconsin had only given up more than 70 points three times all season with two of those games reaching overtime.

Kentucky Wildcats

Up next for Cornell are the Wildcats of Kentucky, one of the top teams left in the tournament. But after a weekend of upsets no one should put up a W on Kentucky’s side before their Thursday night match. Kansas did that this past weekend, only to be bounced from the tournament by Northern Iowa.

Pitt, Villanova, Georgetown and Notre Dame—Big East teams—left the tournament early, knocked out by high flying lower seeds. Let this be a warning to the Wildcats: you’ll have your hand’s full against Cornell on Thursday, one of several unlikely Cinderella teams still in the hunt for its glass slipper.

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